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Close up of artwork in process


             at the Center

    of Learning

Vermont Creative Schools Initiative


"I found out I can be self-directed."

6th Grade Student - Vermont Creative Schools Initiative project

Photo: Gowri Savoor

Under the leadership of John T. Stroup, Associate Professor of Education at Champlain College, the Community Engagement Lab designed and implemented a two-year program evaluation to study the impact of the The Vermont Creative Schools Initiative's teacher professional development and associated teaching artist residencies.

The following summary is excepted from the evaluation reports, which are available in full below.

Students in theatrical poses wearing white masks

The Vermont Creative Schools Initiative (VCSI) is a collaboration of classroom teachers and teaching artists seeking to improve student learning and engagement by placing creativity at the center learning.


Classroom teachers and teaching artists incorporated artistry and creativity into the core academic curriculum to ignite students’ engagement in their learning and strengthen their creative capacities.

Painted cubes stacked on top of each other.

Photo: Gowri Savoor

During the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, 59 teachers from 15 schools partnered alongside 6 teaching artists to serve 1,100 PreK-12 students across Vermont.


Teachers participated in three intensive professional development opportunities throughout the school year. Students, teachers and teaching artists worked towards a final public performance or exhibition.

Young person playing cello.

Photo: John Lazenby

The VCSI years 1 & 2 evaluations included the review of 63 teacher lessons and units, 7 teacher and teaching artist activity logs, 16 student focus groups, 40 hours of direct classroom observations, and post-program surveys from 37 teachers, 10 administrators, 178 parents and 673 students. 

"I have more motivation and more ability to go out and be an active member of my community."

12th Grade Student - Vermont Creative Schools Initiative project

Young students hold up puppets

2017 VCSI Project at Thatcher Brook Primary School, Waterbury

Photo: Gordon Miller

Evaluation Key Findings:

Through the design and implementation of the VCSI, the Community Engagement Lab and its partners have made three major contributions to Vermont:


The VSCI has contributed a successful model to the field of education that can be used to generate positive professional learning for educators as they develop capacities to teach the creative dispositions and skill sets that live inside the creative process. 

The VCSI has contributed new knowledge of how to facilitate and amplify student voices within their communities. 


The VCSI has developed new understandings about the relationship between organizational capacities for creative learning, teachers’ own creative capacities, and the resulting effects on student learning, engagement, and achievement. 


"It ignited a spark in my son that I had not seen—an excitement to learn that I hope he can keep experiencing."

Parent - Vermont Creative Schools Initiative project

Educators sit holding puppets

2018 VCSI Teacher Institute, Montpelier

Through interviews and questionnaires, participating teachers overwhelmingly recognized that their students were more engaged, more joyful about their academic work, and, in many cases, had powerful learning experiences that they may not have had otherwise.

All teachers involved with the VCSI deeply integrated the arts, creativity and Vermont’s transferrable skills within the core content of their classes.

Change in teachers’ perceptions about their general capacity to integrate  creativity into their practices: 

I know how to sustain student creativity over a long period of time. 

Research Graph 1.jpg

Focus group discussions with students and survey responses from administrators and parents show overwhelming support for the VCSI, outlining areas of excellence and future steps for greater student engagement.


Principal Investigator: John T. Stroup, Ph.D.


Years 1 & 2


Year 1

Full Report

Year 2

Full Report

For more information on the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative Evaluation Blueprint and Years 1 & 2 Evaluation Reports, contact John T. Stroup.


This research was made possible by generous support from the Vermont Community Foundation.

Vermont Community Foundation logo
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